The 8th of March is a significant date for women all over the world, because it is the date for celebrating International Women’s Day, which began to be recognised by the United Nations since 1975.

It is celebrated to appreciate the roles and recognise the achievements of women as we work collectively to drive national progress in various fields that include social, economic, cultural and political spheres.

While the world is still faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the successes of women continue to be celebrated globally through various events planned in accordance with new

The theme for this year is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World”. This year’s theme was chosen mainly to celebrate the extraordinary efforts of women and girls all over the world in forging a future and aiding recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in a more equitable manner.

The important role of women is clearly seen in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), over 70 percent of health and social workers globally are women. In Brunei Darussalam, based on the 2019 Labour Force Survey by the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics, women in Brunei Darussalam make up more that 67 percent of the workforce in the health and social sectors.

For that reason, as a majority of frontliners and first responders, social workers, health workers and not to forget as volunteers, we highly value the key role of our women in working shoulder-to-shoulder, sacrificing time and contributing their resources to the nation and the community.

However the pandemic has also impacted women more because they have a variety of other roles and responsibilities that need to be balanced, from taking care of children, family members who are ill, and also the elderly.
In April 2020, a study by UN Women found that women spend three times as many hours as men in unpaid care and domestic work. This definitely has the potential to limit access to work and can impact career progression for woman, as well as affect their physical and mental health.
Therefore, continued support and commitment towards women is crucial in the post-COVID-19 era, to help ensure the well-being of families and communities, achieve economic progress, and promote greater social development toward national prosperity.

The role of women remains relevant, for which women’s contributions and leadership have been proven, and have the potential to be fully utilised in together advancing the post-COVID recovery agenda. This pandemic has shown to the world that the unity of women is always intact, not only in the family but also their participation in society.

Alhamdulillah, to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the socio-economic livelihoods of the people in the country, the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam introduced measures focused on preserving the welfare and well-being of the public.

For example, providing work-from-home and more flexible time arrangements has certainly contributed towards sustaining work-life balance, not only for women but for all who needed it, in the COVID-19 situation. For women who have such multiple responsibilities in caring for the family, in employment or business norm, it is and encouraged for them to continue working shoulder-to-shoulder in the community.

Brunei Darussalam’s commitment in highlighting women’s issues also includes the role it plays in the ASEAN region. As the recent Chair of the ASEAN Committee on Women, Brunei Darussalam led some significant achievements, such as producing the inaugural ASEAN Gender Outlook publication with United Nations Women, and was launched on 1st March 2021, as well as the ASEAN Gender Mainstreaming Framework, an initiative with ASEAN Commission on Women and Children, targeted for completion this year.

Insya’Allah, as Chairman of ASEAN 2021, Brunei Darussalam will also highlight women’s development as one of the deliverables under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Pillar.

At the national level, events planned in conjunction with the celebration of International Women’s Day is intended to provide a platform for women to share ideas and discuss important issues to women in Brunei Darussalam. All this will be channeled towards the production of a study on women in Brunei Darussalam, as part of efforts to strengthen the Plan of Action for Women, under the National Council on Social Issues (MKIS), Insya’Allah.

It is without a doubt, in line with the position of women as the heart of a family and in supporting the development of the country, the role and contribution of women is very important for socio-economic development and the maintenance of peace and security.

Let us together celebrate and appreciate the sacrifices and contributions of women in the country, who have together worked collectively to achieve economic progress, family well-being, and social harmony in achieving Wawasan Brunei 2035.

Finally, Thank you to the all women! May you continue to progress in unity and in developing the society, economy and country. Happy International Day to all the women in Brunei Darussalam.